An individual approach to the skills crisis

With more people unemployed in the UK than there are vacancies in the job market, recruitment and retention should be fairly straightforward – but that is not the case in most sectors, and it is certainly not the case in insurance claims.

“Unemployment is at 1.2 million in the UK and there are 1.12 million jobs,” said James Lambert, Global Director of Talent Acquisition, Capita and owner of Engage to Succeed, which supports individuals and businesses attract and retain people. “There is more than one person available for every vacancy, but despite that it is a very challenging landscape for recruitment. Attracting talent is incredibly tough.”

Meanwhile, retaining that talent during a cost-of-living crisis is not so simple either, James added.

These days money is not always regarded at the number one consideration for employees. Work flexibility, career development and company culture are given equally as much credence by new starters. However, the end salary is a factor and during a cost-of-living crisis it inevitably rises up the list of priorities.

As a consequence, more and more people are moving jobs to secure higher salaries.

James said, “Pay rises are not in line with inflation, and the best way to get a pay rise is to change jobs, so attrition now is above average.”

New Generation

James made these comments during a State of the Nation address at the inaugural ILC New Generation in Claims 2023 event, which took place at etc.venues Manchester on 26 April 2023. Headline sponsored by Wiser and sponsored by Carpenters Group, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and Zurich, New Generation examined the lack of skills entering the industry and considered strategies for tapping into a wider pool of talent.

During his address, he urged employers to revitalise their recruitment strategies and then, once they have attracted new talent, put individualisation over organisation in an effort to retain them.

“Our recruiting methodology is largely the same as it was 20 years ago,” he said. “We need to be disruptive and humanise the process.”

He explained how Capita recruited nearly 28,000 people last year and did so by changing approach from ‘brand marketing’ to ‘candidate marketing’. In other words, rather than using the brand to attract people, Capita advertised its people and culture.

He said, “When advertising we often make the mistake of starting with the company name, but it’s unlikely your brand name will attract anyone. Candidate marketing is about leading from a human perspective, promoting the people, the culture and working environment. We developed a new campaign called ‘Be brilliant, be you’, looking for the right people with the right behaviours, and have already noticed an increase in interest from the market.”


However, recruiting new talent is only half the battle; winning the war for skills is about engagement and retention.

“The top three things people want when looking for a job are money, career development and wellbeing – and people leave for the same reasons. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to engagement, it needs to be individualised.”

That means getting to know your employees on an individual level and developing engagement strategies and work development plans bespoke to them. The days of engagement surveys, James believes, are over. They are too generic, too standardised, and often inaccurate, with many employees either not bothering to fill them in or only providing the answers they believe their employer wants to hear.

“Engagement must be about continuous communication with the individual, placing them at the heart of the conversation,” James said.


The same is true for career development. Priorities and life circumstances change and James urged businesses to remain relevant to the individual’s ambitions through regular conversations, refreshed milestones and the support – both at a managerial and organisational level – to help them achieve their goals.

“The individual needs to own this process and be accountable,” he said, “but if they don’t feel like they’re being supported you’ll struggle to retain them.”

Ultimately, he concluded, the people problem within the sector must be addressed one person at a time, with flexibility, understanding and consistency.

He said, “Don’t be corporate. You need to humanise everything you’re doing from recruitment to engagement, and put individualisation over organisation.”


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